Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas sights and sounds

The last week of December is usually my favorite time of the year. It is the holiday season and generally involves having friends over, catching up with relatives, getting invited to parties, ridiculous overeating, shopping and taking in the glorious Christmas sights.

Singapore is beautiful during Christmas. Although it is sad that we can never have a white Christmas, the perpetually "green" Christmas makes it possible for us to go out wherever and whenever we want without any of the hassles associated with winter :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My thoughts on the Harry Potter books


I am one of the biggest fans of the genius that is J. K. Rowling. I have been an avid follower of the Harry Potter series ever since I was a teenager. The series has become a worldwide phenomenon and I for one am not remotely surprised. What annoys me the most is when people say that they are too "old" to read Harry Potter and that it is a series meant only for kids. I just can't help rolling my eyes in exasperation! These books ceased to be specifically for children halfway through the series; by Goblet of Fire, Rowling was writing for everyone. In my opinion, grown ups who love the Harry Potter books are people who seriously appreciate good writing. It is almost impossible to ignore the abundance of creativity, imagination and wit that are a trademark of every single book in the series. Rowling is an incredibly gifted story-teller and the magic that she has woven into all her books seems to emanate from them leaving a spellbinding effect on the world. What amazes me is how much thought has been put into the books. The magical jargon, the history of Hogwarts, the lineage of magical families, magical abilities, spell-like effects, dark arts, magical creatures and objects.....I can go on and on! It is just mind boggling.

Recipe of the month - Karnataka speciality: Akki rotti

Akki rotti is my favourite breakfast dish......period. There is nothing I enjoy more apart from these delicious rice-based pancakes that are a popular speciality of my home state of Karnataka in South India. My maternal grandmother makes the best akki rottis and every time she is around, we get her to make them for us. Amma makes yummy rottis too and she makes it a point to prepare some for me when I'm home. Over the years, I have heard of different methods and techniques of making this dish from different sources and I had even tried a couple of them to varying degrees of success. This recipe works the best for me so I've faithfully stuck to it.

Akki rotti is made out of rice flour which is made into a dough along with water, yoghurt, grated coconut, chopped onions, green chillies, cooked field beans (avarekalu), curry leaves, coriander leaves and dill (sabbasige soppu). However, there are several variations that can be made to the dough based on an individual's preferences (for example, I absolutely love the herb dill but my husband isn't such a fan or some people like grated carrot in the rottis whilst others don't). The dough is made into a ball and patted with wet palms over a greased laminated sheet or plantain leaf to resemble a thin pancake. This is then transferred to a hot tawa (pan). Sometimes the rotti is patted directly over the tawa. A small amount of oil/ghee is spread over it and the rottis are roasted until golden brown spots appear on both sides. It is best served hot along with a variety of chutneys and/or chutney pudi (spiced chutney powder).

In my household, akki rotti is one of the most popular breakfast requests for a weekend brunch (read: not only mine but also my hubby's favorite!)Soft, crispy, flavorful, wholesome, gluten-free and vegan-friendly....this dish is crowd-pleaser which ever way you look at it!